When targeted, ie, meaningful to the chosen demographic, marketing drives business growth. Hit the right marketing channels with an impactful message and your products and services can be in great demand. The challenge is maintaining relevance, especially through a period of considerable change…
Time to Take Stock of your Marketing
This time last year, businesses were beginning to reopen. We believed that the pandemic was easing and things would soon be back to normal, how wrong we were! Over the last year, we’ve adapted and dug deep. We have had to think differently and, whether business owner or customer, priorities have changed.
As we work towards 19 July, now is the ideal time for SMEs to review and rethink their marketing strategy. Marketing cannot be static; it has to get ahead of the curve and keep pace with change. For this reason, reviewing and refining the strategy every 6 months during turbulent times is good practice. It ensures that resources are being directed where they count.
2020 was a crazy year for any business, but we all thought it would be over by now. With disruptions continuing, it feels as though 2021 has been a bit of a blur. We’ve all been waiting for 21 June, none more than the businesses who are reliant on the complete lifting of restrictions to reopen. Now, the finish line has been extended again, resulting in yet more change.
As we anticipate what the future holds, now is the ideal time for SMEs to take stock of their marketing strategy. It will be possible then to revise your marketing plan and pinpoint how to return your organisation to a position of growth.
Review your Marketing Strategy
What is the strategy behind your marketing actions and does it still resonate with your customers and your brand?
SMEs were notably quick to respond to changing need in 2020. We saw new processes implemented at speed, fresh thinking and the adoption of new technology. Some of these short-term survival strategies have proven to have a longer-term value. If diversification, collaboration or innovation resulted in remarkable engagement, they need to be incorporated into the marketing strategy.
Does the existing marketing strategy take into account the change in customer demographics, consumer habits and expectations?
If new ways of operating attracted a new customer base, it is important to identify what is required to retain their custom as restrictions relax. As we build an understanding of this new target and include them in the marketing strategy, there is a chance to bring more fans along for the ride.
It’s useful to use customer behavioural analysis to get clued up; which marketing channels are your target client connecting with and what influences their purchasing decisions?
Gather feedback and reviews to view the experience of doing business with your brand from the customers’ perspective. Build a clear picture of which elements of your marketing activity are driving engagement and satisfaction. Where is your brand providing value? When you know, play on these strengths in your marketing activities.
Now is also a good time to research the competition. If they are still operating, investigate the changes they have made. Also, identify new disruptors entering the market. How does this insight impact your marketing strategy now?
Using SWOT & PESTLE to Revise Marketing Strategies
A review of the current business position builds up a revised version of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats – the SWOT framework. Some find it valuable to also consider their position in terms of the external influences on their business using PESTLE analysis:
- Political – policy, stability, trade agreements and regulatory requirements, ie, Brexit
- Economic – inflation, interest rates, exchange rates and the impact on consumer spending
- Sociological – demographic, lifestyle and consumer choices and cultural influences
- Technological – the availability, take-up and disruption of emerging technical innovations
- Legal – new legislation and the impact it may have commercially – whether favourable or not
- Environmental – sustainability, the circular economy, zero waste, ethical supply chains and the price of raw materials
The PESTLE approach is discussed in greater detail in this CIPD PESTLE analysis factsheet. These types of frameworks help to organise information, inform tactics and create actionable tasks.
Re-evaluate Marketing Plans
The revised marketing strategy can now inform amends to the current marketing plan. Check that activity remains relevant; the right message directed at the right people in the right places, at the right time.
Implement change where actions are out of line with the revised strategy. Consider every multi-channel interaction between brand and consumer. Is your brand message consistent across the website, Apps, social channels and printed media? Does it continue through brand packaging and direct interaction? Is everyone in your team up to speed with any alterations that have been made?
As every SME has to be mindful of marketing budgets and time, approach this step by step. It would be a challenge to achieve everything in one hit! By prioritising actions over the coming months, it is possible to gradually move your brand forward.
Looking Forward to Growth
The future remains uncertain, but frameworks such as SWOT and PESTLE analysis, along with measuring the impact of your marketing can and should inform strategies for growth. The CIM Catalyst Issue 2 2021 magazine suggests focusing on one of four strategies to realise growth potential:
- Market Penetration – focusing on distribution and promotion of a strong product/service to reach a wider audience
- Market Development – exploring new demographic or geographic customers and honing the marketing message to capture their interest
- Product Development – Using your reputation as a trusted and desirable brand to open up new doors
- Product Diversification – developing new products/services, or processes, and marketing them to different audiences as you expand your geographical reach
As we look to the future, we can be certain that things will never be static, change is inevitable. Scheduling a regular review of the marketing strategy and marketing plan will help to keep what you communicate in line with what your target clients want to hear. It will come around quickly, but regular reviews will ensure resources are directed to where they are most effective and relevant.
Alison Page Marketing offers SMEs specialist advice and practical support with developing and revising their marketing strategy. For further information, please call Alison Page Marketing on 07963 002065 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.